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by Abigail Van Buren

Mom Caught in the Middle of Daughters' Growing Feud

DEAR ABBY: My youngest daughter, "Liza," is going through a divorce that has turned ugly, with her soon-to-be ex, "Dick," choking and threatening to kill her.

The problem is, my oldest daughter, "Mimi," has remained in contact with Dick. She claims she doesn't want her children "to suffer the loss of an uncle they really love." Mimi had promised Liza she would no longer speak to Dick, but when Liza went to her former home to pick up some personal items, she saw on the caller ID that Mimi had been calling there several times a week.

Liza is devastated and feels Mimi has betrayed her. When she called Mimi to discuss it, Mimi refused. Liza then announced that she would never speak to Mimi again.

I feel that Mimi did betray Liza, but I had hoped there would be further communication. Mimi is now avoiding me.

There have been other sticky situations in the past when Mimi has deprived family members -- including me -- from seeing her children as a means of punishment.

I am at a loss. I feel supportive of Liza because I know she really needs me and is being subjected to problems of all kinds from all sides. -- HEARTBROKEN MOTHER IN OHIO

DEAR HEARTBROKEN: What a mess. You have my sympathy. However, Liza may have jumped to the wrong conclusion when she spotted Mimi's number on Dick's caller ID. Caller ID registers the number the call was made from and to whom that number is registered. It does not necessarily reveal the identity of the caller. Rather than Mimi calling, it might have been one or more of her children wanting to talk to "an uncle they really love."

One thing is clear. There is trouble between your daughters. Whether it's recent, or the ill feelings go all the way back to their childhood, you'd be better served to let "the girls" work it out between themselves than to allow yourself to be put in the middle. You can't be their referee forever. You're all adults now, and it's time they resolve their own conflicts without dragging you into it.